Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Interview with KPIX 5 CBS Bay Area
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Allen Martin and Juliette Goodrich of KPIX 5 CBS Bay Area for an interview. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Allen Martin. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joining us now live from the KPIX 5 newsroom.
Juliette Goodrich. Madam Speaker, thank you for coming to our station, albeit a little socialy distanced. But thank you for being here at KPIX 5.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Juliette and Allen. Nice to be with you, however distant.
Allen Martin. Yes, exactly.
Juliette Goodrich. Thank you. Let's start with what's on everyone's minds right now: the situation in Afghanistan. And certainly after witnessing the confusion and the chaos, the big question right now: should the Biden Administration have had a stronger U.S. military presence for the transition?
Speaker Pelosi. First, may I just say that I commend the President for the action that he took. It was strong. It was decisive. And it was the right thing to do. We should have been out of Afghanistan a while back. But now, we are – unfortunately, one of the possibilities was that it would be in disarray, as it is. But that has to be corrected. And it is my understanding, from the assurances we have received, that the military will be there, negotiating with the Taliban for the safe exit of American citizens and friends – people who have helped us, our allies there. And people who work in the nonprofit sector, but also not just U.S. – NGOs, but those that have worked in Afghan NGOs as well, who would be targets.
Allen Martin. Those folks were all crucial to our effort there, but the U.S. withdrawal left tens of billions of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment in the hands of the Taliban. There were helicopters, guns, ammunition. How much does that raise the threat of future terrorist attacks as a well-armed Taliban?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I do believe that the President's decision was based on one that reduced the prospect of any attack on our homeland. And the President has made it very clear to the Taliban: any assault on any American entity or person would be met forcefully. So, this is what happens when you withdraw. Some stuff, some equipment is left there. It was thought that that would be used – it was hoped that it would be used by the Afghan military to defend its own country. The fact that it did not and could not was all more the reason for us to leave.
Juliette Goodrich. Even if ending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was the right decision, as President Biden insists, many are still questioning how it was carried out. And so, that does bring us to viewer questions. So, let's go to this first question: ‘Will there be a Congressional investigation into the withdrawal from Afghanistan?’ That is from a viewer.
Speaker Pelosi. Well the – our Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee has announced today to our Caucus that there would, next week, early next week, be a hearing on this subject, with the highest level officials in the Biden Administration. That is Congress' role, the role of oversight. And that will take place early next week, at least it will begin then.
Allen Martin. I know we only have so much time with you, so I want to switch topics to the pandemic, COVID-19. Despite a huge push across the country to get everybody vaccinated, there are many folks who are just dug in. They're not doing it. So, how do you reach people and convince them they need to get a shot?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, one of the most articulate voices I've heard on this subject has been – and actually more than one – but the voices of those who were in denial on vaccinations before and now are pleading with their friends to be vaccinated and with the public to be vaccinated, because they are feeling the pain and the uncertainty of COVID. And it's a vicious virus. It's resourceful. As it is transmitted, it is mutating into other variants, which again prolong it. But the sooner everyone is vaccinated, the better, of course. That is self-evident, but it doesn't seem to be obvious to some of the people who still refuse
Allen Martin. No.
Speaker Pelosi. And I'm sympathetic if they have medical reasons or just uncertainty, but they've got to weigh the equity, not only for their own safety, but the safety of their children and their families – and, really, for the good of the economy.
Allen Martin. We noticed you're wearing your mask – or that you have it below you.
Speaker Pelosi. Always.
Juliette Goodrich. If we do take it one step further, do you see there being national vaccine and mask mandates?
Speaker Pelosi. Many of the mandates spring from the communities. I'm very proud of the work of our mayor, Mayor London Breed, and what she has done. And now the numbers are going down again in San Francisco because of precautions that are in place – masks indoors. That's why I always have it ready, because it's just indoors – except to take it off for this interview.
But when you say ‘mandates,’ it is a word that is frightening to some people. But the fact is, we need to have vaccinations for children to go to schools or other mandates for – I had to get a mandate because I ate too much fudge chocolate ice cream 30 years ago from a store where somebody got sick. And they said everybody had to have a Tetanus shot. I don't like getting shots, but I had to get the Tetanus shot. They were going to come after you. ‘We are going to come get you if you don't get the Tetanus shot.’ Well, we don't have that kind of, shall we say, enforcement. But we should have moral suasion. And people should understand that, for the common good, they should get vaccinated, if their own health makes that possible for them.
I don't know that you will see a requirement nationally, but what is sad is when you see governors acting in ignorance of science. They ignore science, and they don't believe in science – and they don't believe in governance. So, if the government says you should wear a mask because science says that will help stop the spread, they are a ‘no’ to both. And those two ‘no’s’ don't make a ‘yes.’
Allen Martin. Well, the Texas Governor tested positive, and he was anti-mask. So, the learning curve on all of this has been very, very steep. How are we better prepared? Because there will be another pandemic, the next one.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will be prepared by having a supply chain that is in place to have more education in place for people to understand: the sooner they participate, the better. To have real truth spoken to people without a President of the United States saying, ‘It's a hoax. Ignore the whole thing. It's going to go away. We'll all be in church together at Easter,’ as the former President said last year. But there are certain things that we can do in preparation. And that is with the necessary supplies, with the ongoing conversation that we have about it. And some of our legislation that is coming forth will have pandemic prevention initiatives in them. It was in place under President Obama. It was eliminated last time. We have to put it back in place.
Juliette Goodrich. Let's talk about a big state issue right now. It is the recall election. Are you surprised that Governor Newsom is having to fight for his political life?
Speaker Pelosi. [Governor] Newsom has been a great Governor of California. His ratings are very high, as a matter of fact – high even for a Democratic governor in California. Well into the high 50’s, because he's been a great governor, and he has dealt with so many crises. Now, we have COVID. We have the forest fires. We have so many issues, and he has responded in such a very positive way. Not only that – he has taken the initiative early on for the people of California.
So, I have no question that if he were up for reelection, he would win.
What is necessary to point out is that the Republicans are so enthusiastic about this recall. The Democrats are like, ‘What's the problem?’ They have to be as enthusiastic to get out the vote. People are in pain. This has been a hard couple – a year and a half. People are in pain. We have the forest fires. We have COVID, of course. We have so many ramifications of that, whether children in school, people not being able to go to work and the rest.
We have to be sympathetic to their needs. The Governor has been. I'm so proud of initiatives he's taken about school lunches for all children, health care, a broader application of availability of health care for many more people in California, enabling us to have children go back to school in a safe way, opening up more opportunities for testing, tracing, treatment, vaccination, so that people can go to work. It’s just adjusting in the here and now, but a great governor overall.
So, we'll all be working very hard to make sure that people get out the vote. It's only a conversation unless you own the ground and get out of vote so we have no surprises.
Allen Martin. Well, Madam Speaker, sorry to interrupt you, but let me dovetail, because let me share with you and our viewers a recent CBS News poll [that] shows Republicans are very motivated to get out the vote and remove Newsom. Democrats, not so much. So, how is it Democrats are going to rally and get their supporters out there and actually do the voting?
Speaker Pelosi. We have many more Democrats than Republicans, for one thing. But again, I think – you asked me, ‘Was I surprised?’ I don't think many people took the recall seriously because it's not for a serious purpose. But the fact is, it exists, so we do have to get more enthusiastic about turning out the vote. And the Governor is making a tour right now calling attention to the fact that voting has already started.
So, my message to the people of California is: this can be a dangerous thing, a recall. It is part of the system. We respect that, but don't ignore it.
Juliette Goodrich. Let's not forget, Congress had to work with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he won the recall election in 2003. Those running against Gavin Newsom are much more conservative than he was, so how do you foresee working with someone who is much more aligned with Donald Trump?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don't think the people of California will go with that, but I appreciate your pointing out that this is kind of a Trumpian attempt on the recall, and that's what the choice is: a better future with our wonderful Governor – and I mean, just, Joe Biden in the White House, so much opportunity for us to do things For The People in a very strong way.
And the Governor is again – has a clear vision about the state that he loves. He knows the subject. He knows the state very well. He knows the issues. He has a plan. He thinks strategically to get things done. I'm very proud of Gavin Newsom, Governor Gavin Newsom, and have no intention of working with a Republican governor, because we must make sure that that does not happen. That would have ramifications in the United States Senate, should there ever be an opening, which I don't foresee, but nonetheless whoever the governor is has –
Allen Martin. A lot of things happened that nobody foresaw, so now we are in whole new territory. Part of this was to get a viewer question, so I know we want to get those to you. Puerto Rican Joe writes, ‘People suffering from COVID are getting huge medical bills. Why doesn't Speaker Pelosi support Medicare For All?” Your response to that?
Speaker Pelosi. I support health care for all, and I have a proprietary interest in the Affordable Care Act, being one of the people who wrote it. And I believe it is a better benefit for all, if you look at what the benefits are of the Affordable Care Act. I do believe in expanding the benefits of Medicare, and that's part of what we are doing in this new bill, for hearing, for vision, for dental, for our seniors. But I do think that the better plan is for people to be able to have their own insurance come through their workplace, something they're used to, and the rest. And that – our goal, I think, is a common one: health care for all.
Juliette Goodrich. Speaker Pelosi, Allen and I have had a chance to ask our questions, and you heard from our viewers. So, we want to give you an opportunity to talk about what's on your agenda as you head back to Washington. I know there is the infrastructure vote, but why don't we give you a couple minutes to lay out what you're thinking about right now?
Speaker Pelosi. I appreciate that opportunity. Thank you, Juliette. Thank you, Allen, for your questions. I appreciate the viewer questions as well.
Right now, when we go back on Monday – I'll go back Sunday for our session on Monday – we will be voting For The People, the Build Back Better initiative that is the vision of President Biden, shared by the Democrats in the House and in the Senate. The bill that was passed – the bipartisan bill is a good bill. It's bipartisan in that – but it is not inclusive of all the vision of the President.
We want to Build Back Better, to do so in a way that involves many more women, minorities, people of color and the rest, and the ownership of our economy as we go forward – to do so in a way that is recognition of the assault that the climate crisis has made on our environment. We see the fires here, the floods there, the hurricanes and all the rest that are a threat, but are not acknowledged in the infrastructure bill.
So, whether it's about building the physical infrastructure, that bill goes a long way. Building the personal infrastructure of workforce development, of child care, universal pre-K, family and medical leave – to our friends question earlier – issues like that, that Build Back Better because again, it builds the economy, it builds a society, it builds the infrastructure in a way that is for the future, for the children.
My motivation in Congress has always been about the children, and what we are doing in this additional bill, the reconciliation bill – but it's called Build Back Better – is for the children, For The People.
So, it is many priorities for our veterans, for housing, for education. Again, climate issues and the rest, and we must improve on what has happen in a bipartisan way. And the President said, I want to find as much bipartisanship as possible, but I'm not confining my vision for the future to what that is. We have to do better. That's what we are going back to doing on Monday.
Allen Martin. We know that you're going to work hard at it, and we also know that you're bringing back Members of Congress to get things rolling, get them off their summer recess. So, we wish you the best, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. It's not a recess. It's a District Work Period. People are working very hard, encouraging people to sign up for the Child Tax Credit, encouraging people to apply for the rental assistance and the rest.
Allen Martin. Absolutely, but a break from Washington, nonetheless. Madam Speaker, thanks for taking the time to stop by the station.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure. Thank you, Alan. Thank you, Juliette.